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China tracks, warns US warship as it transits Taiwan Strait amid tensions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Chinese People’s Liberation Army air force formation conducts island patrols during training, the Chinese Taipei, April 26, 2018. (File photo by Xinhua news agency.)

The Chinese military says it tracked and warned a US warship that had sailed through the strategic Taiwan Strait in a second such move in two weeks.

In a statement on Wednesday, the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theatre Command said its forces had monitored the ship throughout and “warned” it.

“The United States frequently stages such dramas and provokes trouble, sending wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces, and deliberately intensifying tensions across the Taiwan Strait," it said.

“Theatre troops maintain high alert at all times, resolutely counteract all threats and provocations, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The US Navy's 7th Fleet said the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal conducted a “routine” Taiwan Strait transit through international waters “in accordance with international law” on Tuesday.

The Navy said the warship “transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State.”

The file photo shows the United States’ guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal.

US warships regularly conduct military exercises in the sensitive strait, which Beijing says stokes regional tensions, and destabilizes the waters of the South China Sea.

Beijing claims sovereignty over the Chinese Taipei, and under the ‘One China’ policy, virtually all countries recognize that sovereignty. The island, however, has been self-ruled since 1950.

The United States, though claiming to abide by the ‘Once China’ policy, has long courted the Chinese Taipei and sold weapons to the self-governed island in an attempt to unnerve Beijing.

The US Navy said on Tuesday that the latest transit through the strait “demonstrates the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

“The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”

The latest incident follows a large-scale military exercise by China in the waters surrounding the island on Monday. 

The drill was conducted near Taiwan to improve joint combat operations, the People's Liberation Army said on Monday after the Chinese-claimed island reported a spike in activity.

Meanwhile, the Taipei’s Defense Ministry late on Tuesday said a single Chinese WZ-10 attack helicopter briefly crossed the strait's unofficial midline. It also reported that two Chinese KA-28 anti-submarine helicopters were spotted in an area at the top part of the South China Sea.

Analysts say the maneuver was a partial rehearsal of a possible reunification-by-force operation, including the neutralization of the military potential of secessionist forces on the island and the cutting off of possible military intervention from countries such as the US and Japan.

China sees Taiwan as the most sensitive and important issue in its relations with the United States. The ties have grown tense in recent years, with the world’s two largest economies clashing over a range of issues, including trade, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and military activities in the South China Sea.


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